k me by surprise, as I had not the smallest suspicion of your acting having assumed so serious a character. It appears a neat job, however, as far as I could judge by candlelight, and does my friend Christopher Jackson credit.” And then he would have changed the subject, and sipped85 his coffee in peace over domestic matters of a calmer hue86; but Mr. Yates, without discernment to catch Sir Thomas’s meaning, or diffidence, or delicacy87, or discretion88 enough to allow him to lead the discourse89 while he mingled90 among the others with the least obtrusiveness91 himself, would keep him on the topic of the theatre, would torment92 him with questions and remarks relative to it, and finally would make him hear the whole history of his disappointment at Ecclesford. Sir Thomas listened most politely, but found much to offend his ideas of decorum, and confirm his ill-opinion of Mr. Yates’s habits of thinking, from the beginning to the end of the story; and when it was over, could give him no other assurance of sympathy than what a slight bow conveyed.
“This was, in fact, the origin of our acting,” said Tom, after a moment’s thought. “My friend Yates brought the infection from Ecclesford, and it spread–as those things always spread, you know, sir–the faster, probably, from your having so often encouraged the sort of thing in us formerly93. It was like treading old ground again.”
Mr. Yates took the subject from his friend as soon as possible, and immediately gave Sir Thomas an account of what they had done and were doing: told him of the gradual increase of their views, the happy conclusion of their first difficulties, and present promising94 state of affairs; relating everything with so blind an interest as made him not only totally unconscious of the uneasy movements of many of his friends as they sat, the change of countenance, the fidget, the